Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fretting Over Calvert Cliffs 3


By Norris McDonald

The Center supports building a third nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs.  So does Maryland's Congressional delegation.  The governor too.  And my state needs the emission free electricity that would come from the plant.  Yet, right at a time when I was awaiting the Obama administration's announcement of a loan guarantee for the project, Constellation walks away from the loan guarantee and serves divorce papers on its nuclear partner.  The Constellation Energy Group and Electricity de France (EdF) nuclear marriage is unraveling in the most unpleasant of ways.  Constellation wants to get out for $1 and EdF is seeking a new mate.  Lawyers don't build nuclear power plants.

We met with representatives of the parties before the turmoil because we want this plant built 40 miles from where I live.  We have met with AREVA too.  They want to build the plant.   EdF cannot own and operate an American nuclear plant so they need a new American partner.  My guess is that they are courting Exelon and Entergy because they are the largest nuclear power companies in Ameirca.  EdF is offering to cover the loan guarantee service money and it appears to me that they will do whatever it takes to get this plant built.  And that is why we supported the EdF purchase over Warren Buffet's purchase in 2009.  We knew Buffet would not 'go all the way' and build a new plant.  Fortunately, Constellation listened to our advice.  And now this.

Exelon and Entergy are excellent companies and have outstanding records in operating nuclear power plants.  If the Constellation split is permanent (and we suspect it is), then either of these companies would be acceptable to us in providing the emission free electricity Maryland needs for the rest of the 21st Century.  We believe there could also be a positive economy of scale by building a fourth reactor at the Calvert Cliffs location.  Finally, we would love to have equity in a 3rd reactor.

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